KATHMANDU, Sept 25: Amid concerns that the relations between Nepal and India had seen a hiccup again after the decision of Kathmandu not to participate in the BIMSTEC military drill earlier this month, it has been learnt that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could visit Nepal by November-end.
Highly-placed diplomatic sources confirmed that preparations are being made to schedule a visit between November-end and mid-December. “Negotiations are underway through diplomatic channels to fix the date. Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to visit Lumbini during this visit to Nepal,” said a source, on condition of anonymity.
This is going to be the fifth visit of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal after he assumed office in India. Besides his visit to attend the SAARC summit, and last month’s BIMSTEC summit, Modi has made bilateral visits to Nepal twice already.
Prime Minister Modi wanted to visit Janakpur, Lumbini and Muktinath during his previous visits to Nepal. Although he could visit Janakpur and Muktinath during his visit in April this year, his desire to visit Lumbini — the birthplace of Lord Buddha -- remains unfulfilled. Modi will take the opportunity to visit Lumbini during the upcoming visit.
Sources said preparations are also being made to inaugurate Jayanagar-Janakpur-Kurtha rail during his upcoming visit. The defunct railroad is being brought to operation with Indian assistance.
Although a section of analysts see Modi’s visit as his strategy to positively influence the upcoming elections in India, others suggest that it is a positive sign that Indian Prime Minister Modi is willing to visit Nepal whenever he finds spare time. “In diplomacy, symbols and substance both matter. Nepal has to develop diplomatic skills to reap benefit from such visits,” said Ramesh Nath Pandey, a former foreign minister.